Eco-friendly Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

Article written by Miessence Colleague, R.V.

While it’s still only November, we’re starting to think about the holiday season around here!  Our family gives lots of handmade Christmas gifts, and we love to make handmade decorations too, which means that we start early.

With a little bit of planning, it’s super simple to make your holidays eco-friendly, and keep a lot of the unnecessary trash out of the landfills.  (To give you an idea about the typical about of trash generated during the holidays: Americans generate 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s season than any other time of the year.  That amounts to an extra 25 million tons of garbage!)[1]

Here are some super simple ways to make your holidays more eco-friendly.

Plantable Greeting Cards

Instead of sending regular paper cards, you can send seed paper cards for Christmas, New Year’s, or any other occasion.  Seed paper is composed of recycled paper, broken down into pulp, and then re-fashioned into things like confetti and greeting cards with seeds embedded in the paper.  You can get seed paper that grows everything from wildflowers to mustand, chilli, and tomato plants.  Once spring rolls around, just plant the paper in the ground and watch your garden grow!  You can even support small, independent artisans by buying your plantable greeting cards on Etsy.  (There are also companies like Bloomin and LoweCo. that make plantable greeting cards.)

Food Gifts

Food gifts are amazing because they’re creative, yummy, and they don’t end up in a landfill.  Everything from cookies and banana bread, to dried soup mix in a mason jar, make excellent gifts.  Get creative and put all the dry ingredients to your favourite recipe in a mason jar, with instructions written on some card stock; or go super simple if you’re strapped for time and pick up some loose leaf tea and cookie mix from a bulk food store.  Decorate your mason jars with stickers and ribbon, and voila!  Instant food gift.

Consumable Gifts

Another great way to generate less trash this holiday season is to give consumable gifts: things like bath and body products, household cleaners, dish towels, laundry soap….  Making up a gift basket with gourmet consumables will make someone feel loved and pampered without giving them more stuff that just sits in a cupboard until it goes to the landfill.

Choose Handmade and Homemade Gifts

Whether you make it yourself, or you buy it from a local artisan, a handmade gift is a great way to show someone that you care.  Handmade gifts can also be useful too: a knit hat or scarf, upcycled dishcloths (we cut old flannel shirts into rectangles and sew the edges neatly in our house: instant reusable fabric napkins), homemade soap and lip balm…. The possibilities are endless.  (And handmade gifts usually involve less plastic – a definite bonus for the environment.)

Use Fabric Gift Wrap

Instead of buying that shiny, paper gift wrap, grab a few yards of fabric and some pinking shears.  You can easily cut some fabric gift wrap that can be used again and again.  A simple tutorial can be found here: http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/fabric-gift-wrap.html

Have a Handmade Gift Exchange

Instead of the usual Secret Santa, or whatever your workplace or family might do as a gift exchange, implement a new rule: everything must be handmade.  Knitters can make mittens.  Bakers can make cookies.  Those with only 10 minutes to spare and few crafting skills can buy a brownie mix and make a tin of goodies.

Decorate with Nature

Skip the plastic baubles and decorate with pine cones, sticks, bark, and evergreen boughs.  (A handful of pine boughs in a clear vase would make a gorgeous eco-friendly centerpiece.)

Choose Your Christmas Tree Wisely

Whether you go with a live or a plastic Christmas tree, choose wisely.  A plastic Christmas tree generally generates less trash and pollution if you use it for 10 years of more.  If you’re going through fake trees in only a few years, though, a real tree might be a better choice.  They can be mulched after use, and potted trees can reused for multiples years and then planted outside.  When possible, choose an organically grown tree from a small, local business.


[1] Source: https://lbre.stanford.edu/pssistanford-recycling/frequently-asked-questions/frequently-asked-questions-holiday-waste-prevention

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